[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein [official profile] on Tuesday asked parties involved in the Taliban attack in Kunduz, Afghanistan, to do everything in their power to protect civilians form harm [press release]. He expressed concern over the deteriorating human rights situation and urged “all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law to protect civilians and to take all feasible steps to prevent the loss of life and injuries to civilians.” A Taliban statement reassured that “lives, property, and honor will be safeguarded” during the continuing conflict. The Taliban has taken control of several of the city’s main building including hospitals, government facilities and the UN premises and have hundreds of prisoners from the prisons in the city. Zeid stated that “International law upholds the protected status of healthcare facilities and personnel, preserves humanitarian space, and requires that those who have laid down their arms, are injured, detained or otherwise hors de combat, must be treated humanely.” The human rights chief has concerns that these laws are being violated by both parties.
Human rights groups have criticized Afghanistan’s record in recent months. In August the UN said that a new report [text, PDF] shows a significant increase in the number of women and children [JURIST report] being hurt or killed in Afghanistan’s war against the Taliban and other insurgents. In June the UN Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Mark Bowden stated that the hostilities in Afghanistan are leading to the killing and wounding of thousands [JURIST report] and the forced relocation of families into neighboring countries. In April UNAMA and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) released a report urging Afghanistan to strengthen its criminal justice system [JURIST report] to protect women from domestic violence. Also in April an Amnesty International report stated that Afghanistan women’s rights activists are facing increased violence [JURIST report] and a lack of governmental support. In March UNAMA released a report [JURIST report] indicating a 22 percent increase in civilian causalities in 2014, making 2014 the deadliest year in Afghanistan since 2009.